When Guillermo Del Toro decided to resign as director of The Hobbit film project, the 47-year-old director gave his fans at The One Ring fan site an explanation, “that they were of sufficient complexity and severity to lead to the current situation.” Not citing one thing in particular, Del Toro exits the stage as director of the prequel to Peter Jackson’s cinematic legacy, The Lord of the Rings trilogy of films.
Taking a quick look at Guillermo Del Toro’s cinematic past.
Famous for bringing the comic books Hellboy and Blade to the big screen, Del Toro is also the director of the acclaimed 2006 film Pan’s Labyrinth. In 2002, as director of the second of installment in the Blade franchise, which received mediocre reviews doing slightly better than the original Blade (1998), or BladeTrinity (2004). Financially for the franchise, Del Toro’s film made the most, in domestic ticket sales with $82,348,319 and $155 million worldwide. Stephen Norrington directed the first Blade film and made $70,087,718 domestically and $131,183,530 in worldwide release. Blade Trinity fared poorly with critics, and at the box office, bringing in a couple million fewer than the first Blade at $128,905,366 worldwide with less than half in domestic sales. Writer of the series, David Goyer, who also wrote and directed 2009’s film for Michael Bay’s Platinum Dunes films The Unborn, and took the directorial helm In Blade Trinity. If the rise and fall of the Blade franchise, is a Wesley Snipes acting issue or not, the director is usually held accountable, and Del Toro comes out ahead in this contest.
As the writer, and director of the two released Hellboy films, Del Toro’s inspiration came to life on the screen with actor Ron Perlman in the lead role. Doing much better with this franchise, Del Toro both received positive reviews from critics and the fans who came to see the film. The first Hellboy film in 2004 grossed $99,318,987 worldwide and four years later in 2008, Hellboy II: The Golden Army made $160,388,063 worldwide. Between the two Hellboy films, Guillermo took time to direct his foreign horror film, El laberinto del fauno or Pan’s Labyrinth. Del Toro wrote and directed this dark, eerie fantasy tale set in Spain during World War II. Foreign films are difficult to assess financially, this film made $83,258,226 worldwide, with just fewer than 50% in domestic sales. Pan’s Labyrinth was excellent in spite of its dark subject, captivating with the world that Del Toro creates, yet made significantly less than either Blade II or the Hellboy films. Del Toro was a solid choice for directing the two films based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s beloved prequel to The LOTR books.
The Hobbit is the story of Bilbo Baggins’s adventure with Gandalf and the Dwarves to the Lonely Mountain and the lair of the dragon Smaug, to find The One Ring. Brought on two years ago to oversee the Jackson production, Guillermo Del Toro worked on the preproduction aspects of The Hobbit. Working with Jackson’s company of New Zealanders, Del Toro lead the team detailing the vision that he, Jackson, Philippa Boyens, and Jackson’s real life partner, Fran Walsh, describe in their screenplay. Set on the same grand scale of the LOTR films, they were planning to film The Hobbit all at once but release one-half at a time. As the director, he and his staff used animatics to help with storyboarding the visual concepts as the team translates these ideas to the screen. Both Jackson and Del Toro have an attention to detail, and both know how to recreate a fantasy world from literally, thin air.
Moving on — Sam Raimi?
Now that Guillermo is gone, who has the credentials to lead The Hobbit? Certain directors come to mind, Sam Raimi for one. Director of the Spider-Man films, he too has pulled out of a fourth sequel leaving Sony to “reboot” the series with director Marc Webb. Raimi is an excellent writer, director, and producer, however, there is a style and a quality to the images that audiences are expecting the director to live up to with The Hobbit. Although Spider-Man as a comic book adaptation out performs Del Toro’s Hell Boy and Blade II films in ticket sales. Raimi also has the New Zealand connections with his executive producer and producer credits for the TV series, Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, Xena: Warrior Princess, Legend of the Seeker, Spartacus: Blood and Sand, and Cleopatra 2025. He also produced such films like 30 Days of Night and 2005’s Boogeyman in New Zealand. Sam Raimi is 51 years old.
Another directorial possibility for The Hobbit would be Guillermo’s Del Toro’s friend and fellow citizens, 49 year-old Alfonso Cuarón. The Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban’s director, Curon has three outstanding films under his belt to consider as part of his directorial resume. The most successful is of course, the third Harry Potter sequel raking in $795,634,069 worldwide only 31.4% of that amount in domestic sales. The film did well both critically and financially, giving Cuarón industry influence. In 2001, Cuarón wrote and directed the brilliant Y tu mamá también. Like his friend Guillermo Del Toro, Y tu mama también (And your mother too), a wonderful film in Spanish, only made $33,616,692 worldwide, only 41.2% in domestic sales. Cuarón also directed Children of Men with $69.9 million in sales. Alfonso Cuarón defiantly is a contender for the position of director of The Hobbit.
With four major films, writer, and director of Shrek, Shrek 2, and The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, Andrew Adamson is a possible choice. The four films in worldwide release grossed $1,142,223,705 total. Born in Auckland, and entrenched in the New Zealand film industry; the 44-year-old director has a cinematic approach is similar to Jackson’s in the sense of grandeur. Watching the vast, sweeping panorama of his native New Zealand during The Chronicles of Narnia films, is a direct reminder of the directorial style that Jackson utilized in the LOTR films. The most striking aspect of the connection between Jackson and Adamson is the material. Jackson’s author of choice was John Ronald Reuel Tolkien’s Lord of the Ring books and his object of his affection. While Adamson’s choice for material was, Tolkien’s best friend, Clive Staples Lewis. Contemporary of one another, Lewis and Tolkien were close friends. Their materials, allegorical in nature are beloved by both children and adults. I think that the possibilities are good that Adamson is the man for the part. Four financially stable films, making his investors money. Remember, this is business, and the bottom line weighs heavily on the minds of the producers and investors. After reviewing Andrew Adamson’s resume, I find him to be the stronger contender for the job, for now…
Jumping to the “A” list and the name JJ Abrams comes immediately to mind. Wrapping up the postproduction for Super 8, he would be hard pressed to move quickly from one project to the other. Jackson would have help in getting Abrams up to speed where Del Toro left off. Aside from the Lost TV series, Abrams has 2008’s Cloverfield, which brought in around $170,764,026 worldwide and 46.9% came for domestic sales. Star Trek is Abrams’s largest cinematic financial success to date. Abrams rewrote, revised, and redirected Star Trek, and rebooted the great Sci-Fi film franchise, whose later films came down with a serious case of gangrene. Abram’s style seems to be less grandiose, using medium, rather than close shots of the characters. Perhaps his style is too innovative for a film like The Hobbit. No sweeping landscapes for Abrams, unless he creates them in the special effects department. Currently working pre-production for four upcoming projects, such as Mission Impossible IV, a Cloverfield sequel and of course the highly anticipated Star Trek sequel, JJ is a busy man. Abrams is going the right direction and due to prior commitments, is unavailable for projects at this time. Or, so his message machine should say. You are welcome JJ.
Kathryn Bigelow or Peter Weir as the director?
Someone suggested director Kathryn Bigelow’s name to me for consideration, and after a brief review of Bigelow’s resume, I put it in the “don’t call us, we’ll call you” pile. The most oblivious reason was a lack of fantasy films listed on her resume. Another director one should consider for a moment is an older, more experienced director than Raimi, Adamson, and Cuarón, is 66-year-old director Peter Weir. Weir’s list of credits is extensive. However, Weir’s films are known more for their thoughtful, character studies, a leader in the forefront of Australian filmmaking, his resume includes films like Picnic at Hanging Rock, The Last Wave, The Year of Living Dangerously, and Dead Poets Society, to name a few. Peter Weir, although capable, would be a total miscasting of roles.
Steven Spielberg or James Cameron?
Getting down to business, time to think of the big guns in the Hollywood filmmaking world, let’s talk Spielberg. Steven Spielberg is one of the best, if not the best filmmaker around. 40 years ago he was the upcoming film director, who rarely made a mistake directorially, now 64 he is even better than before. His peaks are larger than his valleys, and his credibility is beyond question. Spielberg has the vision, the skill, and the resume to pull off this film, however, his style is different from that of Jackson’s, creating an odd film in the set of the Tolkien opus. The Hobbit would be a film that would seem out of place, not due to its lack of style, but rather because of its difference in style.
Other than James Cameron, who is busy putting together other projects, including the Avatar sequel; there is only one other person who can pull off The Hobbit on the same scale and with the same vision as the Lord of Rings director himself. That man is the one and only Peter Jackson. After directing the LOTR trilogy, Jackson spends his time producing films. A recent exception is The Lovely Bones last year in 2009, which he produced, directed, and has writing credits.
Are there Hobbits Mr. Jackson?
Filmmaking is a corporate business. Let’s face it; making a film is more about business than it is about art. Executive producers, the people that finance the films, look to you Peter, as a leader, and not a manager at this time. Since the LOTR Jackson has directed one film, and produced many. In essence, Mr. Jackson promoted himself to the upper levels of management. Sometimes, when a leader becomes a manager, it is essential that if the hired leader leaves the project, as in the case of Guillermo Del Toro leaving Jackson’s’ employ, Jackson needs to show leadership. Already the man with the vision, as one of the writers of the film, Jackson knows the direction that The Hobbit should take and has the best vision for the film. Jackson knows Middle-Earth better than Del Toro ever could. More importantly, we tried it your way Mr. Jackson and it didn’t work out. Mr. Del Toro has left the building, and the right thing to do for your investors, LOTR fans, and to the memory of J.R.R. Tolkien, you must, clear your calendar for the next few years, and take this project back. Whatever the delays that were ailing The Hobbit; as producer, writer, and director, Mr. Jackson you must overcome them. Mr. Jackson you know, the fans know it, and I know it. You are The Hobbit‘s only hope.
Box Office Mojo
Guillermo Del Toro
Analysis – Mine